U.S. missile defense systems successfully shot down a simulated ICBM over the Pacific in a test of America’s anti-missile programs.
The U.S. Defense Department announced Thursday that anti-ballistic missile defense systems had successfully intercepted and shot down a simulated intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific in a test.
— ABC News (@ABC) May 30, 2017
The test comes in the wake of several ballistic missile tests from North Korea, and many commentators have seen the test as at least a response to Pyongyang’s provocations.
Whatever the motivations of the test, the successful test marks an important step toward the ability of the United States being able to field a reliable missile defense system.
The United States has sought to develop a comprehensive ballistic missile defense system ever since President Ronald Reagan announced the pursuit of the Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983.
In a presidential address, Reagan laid out his vision of the future:
What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?
I know this is a formidable, technical task, one that may not be accomplished before the end of the century. Yet, current technology has attained a level of sophistication where it’s reasonable for us to begin this effort. It will take years, probably decades of efforts on many fronts. There will be failures and setbacks, just as there will be successes and breakthroughs. And as we proceed, we must remain constant in preserving the nuclear deterrent and maintaining a solid capability for flexible response. But isn’t it worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war? We know it is.
As President Reagan said, “failures and setbacks” have plagued the missile defense program aplenty, but Thursday’s test could qualify as one of the “successes and breakthroughs.”
While the United States remains a long way from preventing all-out nuclear war, a successful interception test lets rogue nations know that their pursuit of ballistic missile capabilities may prove futile in the end.
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